Air Travel Organisers' Licensing scheme
If you booked your flight within the UK and it is part of a package holiday, your money is protected if:
- You bought a ticket from an airline that has gone bankrupt and stopped flying; or
- Your tour operator or travel agent goes bankrupt before paying your money to the airline.
In these cases, your money is protected by law under the Civil Aviation Authority's Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) scheme.
ATOL will also provide protection where:
- You book flights where you don't immediately get your tickets, e.g. with charter flights;
- Your holiday involves at least one flight to or from the UK; or
- You've booked a discounted scheduled flight.
For more information, see Consumer bodies for holiday complaints
Arranging your own financial protection
If your ticket money isn't otherwise protected, you can protect yourself financially by:
- Making sure that your travel insurance policy covers scheduled airline failure; and
- Buying your ticket with a credit card – if the payment is more than £100 then you'll be able to claim your money back from the credit card company under the Consumer Credit Act.
If your money isn't protected, you'll be an 'unsecured creditor' of the bankrupt airline company. This means that you won't get paid until after all the secured creditors (those with a charge/mortgage) have been paid.
You'll need to contact the bankruptcy administrators to register your interest in getting your share of any money that is left over after the secured creditors get their money.
You can get contact details for the administrator from The Insolvency Service in England and Wales, or the DETI Insolvency Service in Northern Ireland.
If you're already on holiday
Some airlines offer 'repatriation fares' for stranded passengers. These are usually available only by phoning the airline directly.